Oak Park River Forest Gangster Tours

Step into the intriguing world of gangsters and prohibition-era crime as we embark on a journey through the captivating Oak Park River Forest Gangster Tours. Did you know that beyond the idyllic streets of Oak Park and River Forest lies a hidden history of notorious gangsters and illicit activities? In this blog post, we invite you to explore the dark underbelly of these suburbs as we provide a detailed overview of the gangster tours and their historical significance. Discover the notorious gangster history of Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois, where the footsteps of infamous mobsters like Al Capone once echoed. Find information on all the 2024 tour dates and get ready to uncover secrets, tales, and fascinating legends that continue to captivate our imagination.

History of Oak Park and River Forest

Oak Park and River Forest, neighboring suburbs located just west of Chicago, have a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. These communities were established as residential areas offering a tranquil escape from the bustling city while maintaining proximity to downtown Chicago. Oak Park, known for its beautiful architecture and tree-lined streets, became a popular destination for affluent families seeking a suburban lifestyle.


During the Prohibition era, Oak Park and River Forest became more than just a destination for a peaceful suburban life. Their proximity to Chicago and the thriving illegal alcohol trade turned them into hotspots for organized crime. Notable gangsters, including Al Capone and his associates, recognized the strategic advantage of these suburbs as they could establish speakeasies, gambling dens, and other illegal operations away from the intense scrutiny of city authorities. In addition to Capone, John Binder, Sam Giancana, Tony Accardo, Paul Ricca, and Machine Gun Jack McGurn were prominent figures associated with the Chicago mob, also known as the Chicago Outfit. These Italian mafia members, often called brutal hoodlums, played significant roles in the city's organized crime scene. Tony Accardo earned the nickname "Joe Batters" and Paul Ricca was called "Tough Tony" Capezio. Oak Park and River Forest were ideal locations for illicit activities, with their quiet neighborhoods providing cover for the operations of organized crime.


While Oak Park and River Forest were not known as major centers of criminal activities themselves, they were linked to the larger criminal landscape through notable gangsters and criminal activities associated with the area. Al Capone, the most infamous gangster of his time, had connections to Oak Park and River Forest. His influence and criminal empire extended into the suburbs, where he maintained speakeasies and used them as bases for his operations. The suburbs also hosted high-stakes gambling activities and were often frequented by prominent gangsters of the era. The significance of Oak Park and River Forest during the Prohibition era lies in their connection to the more extensive network of organized crime, showcasing how these seemingly quiet suburbs were entangled in the illicit activities of the time.

Overview of Gangster Tours

The Oak Park River Forest Gangster Tours offer an immersive experience of the fascinating world of gangsters and organized crime from the Prohibition era until the 1990s. These tours provide an opportunity to delve into the rich history and hidden stories of Oak Park and River Forest, shedding light on their connection to notorious figures like Al Capone. There is no walking tour, just a comfy bus tour that brings the intriguing gangster history of these suburbs to life.


Tour dates for 2024:

June 9th

June 23rd

July 14th

September 22nd

September 29th

October 6th

October 27th 

Each tour date offers two start times, 11am and 2pm. The Tour is around 2.5 hours and departs from FitzGerald's at 6615 W. Roosevelt Road in Berwyn (GET DIRECTIONS).

The tour takes participants to the homes of thirteen famous gangsters, where they can witness firsthand the sites associated with organized crime beginning in the Prohibition era. Many homes showcased on the tour were the site of notorious gangster activities and offer a glimpse into the illicit underworld that once thrived in Oak Park and River Forest. Leading the tour is knowledgeable guide John Binder. Binder is an organized crime historian and author of The Chicago Outfit and Al Capone’s Beer Wars. Through his extensive knowledge and research, he regales tour participants with stories about the former owners of the homes, the gangsters’ families, and the interesting features of each home, including secret tunnels and hidden rooms.


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Highlights of the Gangster Tours

The Gangster Tours of Oak Park and River Forest offer a range of exciting highlights that bring the history of organized crime to life. Participants will have the opportunity to see the exteriors of the homes of thirteen infamous gangsters. The houses on the tour were once owned by prominent Chicago gangsters, including Tony Accardo, Paul Ricca, Sam Giancana, “Tough Tony” Capezio, and “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn.


In addition to exploring specific gangster haunts, the tours also shed light on significant historical events and incidents that occurred in Oak Park and River Forest. You’ll hear stories about particular incidents involving notable gangsters or recount the impact of organized crime on the local communities. From high-stakes gambling operations to turf wars and law enforcement efforts, the tours provide a deeper understanding of the historical context and the influence of gangsters in the area.


With organized crime guru John Binder as your guide, there will be no shortage of fascinating stories and anecdotes about the gangster era. His knowledge and expertise bring the history to life, offering unique insights and behind-the-scenes tales that add an extra layer of intrigue. Whether sharing lesser-known stories about particular gangsters or recounting the audacity of their activities, Binder provides captivating narratives that engage participants and make the gangster era come alive. These stories and anecdotes add depth and color to the tour experience, ensuring an engaging and memorable exploration of Oak Park and River Forest's gangster history.

Planning Your Gangster Tour Experience

Planning your gangster tour experience is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable outing. To book a gangster tour, you can find contact details and online booking options on the official website of the tour provider. Check for available dates, tour options, and any specific requirements or considerations mentioned on the booking platform.


The tour is recommended for ten years and older. The duration of the gangster tours is usually 2.5 hours. It's advisable to check the tour details or contact the tour provider for the most up-to-date information on the duration. Additionally, consider any specific requirements mentioned, such as age restrictions.


Tours are usually available on select days during the late summer and fall. There is no walking required on this luxury bus tour. Tours leave promptly at their designated time, so it is recommended that you arrive early to ensure you don't miss the departure. The tour starts and ends from Fitzgeralds, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn. There is parking on Roosevelt Road and the nearby side streets in Berwyn or Oak Park.


Make sure to get your tickets ahead of time online and enjoy this gangster tour experience, immersing yourself in the fascinating history of Oak Park and River Forest's organized crime era.


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While You’re in Town

After stepping back in time to experience the fascinating gangster history of Oak Park and River Forest, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in these charming suburbs. Explore the architectural wonders of Oak Park by taking a stroll through the historic district and admiring the stunning Frank Lloyd Wright homes, including the famous Unity Temple and the Frederick C. Robie House. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum to learn about the life and works of the iconic American writer who grew up in Oak Park. Additionally, take advantage of the nearby parks and green spaces, such as Thatcher Woods or Priory Park, for a leisurely walk or picnic surrounded by nature's tranquility.


For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Oak Park Art League is a must. This community-based organization hosts exhibitions, workshops, and art classes, providing a vibrant and creative space for artists and art lovers alike. If you're in the mood for shopping or dining, explore the charming boutiques, cafes, and restaurants along Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street. From cozy cafes to trendy eateries, there is a diverse range of culinary delights to savor. Whether you explore the area’s history further, indulge in artistic endeavors, or simply enjoy the local charm, Oak Park and River Forest offer a variety of activities and attractions to complement your gangster tour experience.


We hope to see you there!